It’s only been a month, but it feels like forever. On February 2, 2018, I said goodbye to my 13-year-old cat, Hector. He was my heart cat. He was my baby. And I miss him so much. Every time I think about him, it physically hurts. There is something empty inside of me. Unlike when I lost Mitzi, however, I knew this was coming.
In November of 2017, I took Hector to the vet because he seemed to be getting sick more than usual. He’d always been a pretty fragile cat, health wise. He threw up a lot and had constipation problems most of his life. He’d had several overnight stays at vet hospitals. But he always came through it.
It wasn’t his normal vet this time, but the vet who had given me the bad news about Mitzi in 2015. Already it didn’t bode well. Already the sinking feeling I had in my gut grew worse. She weighed him and said he’d lost more than 10% of his body weight in just a few months. Since he was due for a checkup of his hyperthyroid condition, I agreed to have a complete blood test. The results were inconclusive – his hyperthyroidism was still under control, so it couldn’t be that causing him to lose weight and vomit and all the rest. His white blood cell count was very high, however. She suggested taking him for an abdominal ultrasound, to see what was upsetting him so much.
So I took him to get an ultrasound. It didn’t take as long as the technician’s assistant said it might. I thought maybe that was a good thing. Hector never fussed around vets. He was terrified of them and would hide underneath my arm but he was never mean to them. He was a cooperative cat. They sent the results to Hector’s vet. His small intestine’s mucous was thicker than normal. It could be IBD (irritable bowel disease) or cancer.
I knew it was that. It seemed to me he’d always had IBD but it was never diagnosed. To know for sure Hector would have to undergo an operation that would examine his intestines and biopsy them. Ugh. It felt like too much to put him through. If it was cancer, there was nothing that could be done. I decided to treat him as if it were IBD. His regular vet was back in the picture now. Dr. C told me if I treated Hector for IBD, with steroids, it would be impossible to treat for cancer later as they have to be weaned off the steroids or something like that. Anyway, I changed his food and I gave him the medication as best I could, all the while continuing to treat his hyperthyroidism.
Hector had his good days. He loved to cuddle, to greet me at the door, to watch for me through the patio while sitting on the table, to steal my seats, to roll on the concrete, and all the other things he loved to do. In the back of my mind, I knew I would have to make a decision one day, but I tried not to think of it.
The bad days started to happen more often. Hector wouldn’t eat because it would make him throw up. He wasn’t able to go number 2. He drank more than normal. He stayed in his “sick spot” all day. His coat began to look ragged. He was just skin and bones. His eyes began to sink in. My heart broke. I didn’t want to make that decision. His medicine wasn’t working. He didn’t seem to be in pain but I didn’t want it to get to that point. I felt so alone. I didn’t want to do it too soon and I didn’t want to prolong it. One day, he just lingered in front of his food and didn’t eat. He looked so poor. Yet he still wanted to cuddle. How could I make this decision?
I took him to the vet again. Dr.C took one look at Hector and confirmed my worst fear. There was nothing else to be done. I could have had him hospitalized over the weekend but it would be for nothing, really. So I had him euthanized. I hope I made the right decision.
There are always those what-ifs. Those doubts. Regrets. I can’t go back and change anything. I can only hope that I did the right thing for Hector. It was never about how much I loved him and didn’t want to let him go; it was about his quality of life, or lack thereof.
I beat myself up, of course. Somehow, it’s not as bad as a few years ago with Mitzi. I’m on sertraline now, so maybe that helps. I don’t focus so much on my anxieties. Sometimes, though, I wish I could focus better, for my thoughts are everywhere and I feel like I don’t give enough thought to my beloved Hector.
In any case, I am slowly remembering his life and not his death. It is still hard. I want him back. I’d give anything to have him back in my life. But alas, it cannot be. I will have to retrieve his body from the vet’s office once the ground thaws and I suppose I’ll cry all over again, though it’s not like I cry myself to sleep every night anyway. I guess it might help to bury him close by me and somewhere near his favorite place outside.
It’s just me and Duchess these days. She seems to know Hector is gone, though I suspect she loves having my complete attention on her. She stays close to me, closer than before because Hector used to own me. For the first couple of days, she hung back from her food bowl, as if waiting for Hector to pounce in before her. She seems a bit lonely. She turned 15 years old on February 20. I’m hoping her health holds up for a long time. I don’t think I can go through all this again.
Maybe you noticed that I haven’t written much lately. This is partly why. I hope this post will help someone in some way. It has helped me.
In closing, I want to share one happy memory of Hector. I had been in New York City for the weekend. My mom was cat sitting and when I got home, they were all outside, Hector hiding in the cedars. He heard me talking to my mom and came running out to greet me. He actually looked so happy to see me! He was like a dog in many ways. Anyway, it felt nice to be loved and wanted. Hector made me feel that way all the time.
R.I.P. Hector, October 14, 2004-February 2, 2018.